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You could be forgiven for initially thinking that Kitchin Suppers is just another publication from a long line of celebrity chefs who have released books full of recipes which are bordering on the impossible to produce at home. In fact, Tom Kitchin breaks the mould. He is obviously a man who cooks at home with and for his family and friends and appreciates the limits of domestic appliances, the equipment available to most home cooks, the time constraints within family and working life, and that, at home, we don’t have an army of kitchen staff to handle all the prep for us.

The recipes in the book are not adapted from the dishes on his restaurant menus, but have been specifically created for home cooking. That’s not to say that the recipes aren’t interesting, quite the opposite. Tom provides some twists on classics but he also serves up some more unusual supper ideas, including quick and easy recipes for entertaining, Sunday dinners, one-pan wonders and weeknight meals.

The recipes don’t require a lot of time or effort (though a few will need a little planning and clever shopping), and there isn’t a single recipe which stands out to me as not being achievable for the average home cook, but there’s definitely no compromise on quality or mouth-watering appeal.

We put Tom’s rolled escalope of veal with lemon and caper butter recipe and claim that many of the dishes can be on the table in 30 minutes to the test. I decided to do baked new potatoes with the meal so it wasn’t realistic to think we’d be having dinner in 30 minutes but, that said, once the potatoes were in the oven, I was able to prepare and cook the escalopes in next to no time. The dish would work equally well with some crusty bread making it more than achievable in a short timeframe. And the verdict? There’s no question we’ll be having it again!

The feel of the book is homely too, aided by the photographs which are natural and realistic representations of what it is you’ll be cooking. A photograph needs to be a feast for the eyes and make you want to cook a dish but let’s face it there’s nothing more disappointing than the dish you cook looking nothing like the picture in the book.

Kitchin Suppers proves that home cooking doesn’t have to be boring, understated or the same old dishes time and time again. Good food needn’t take an age to prepare and it doesn’t have to be complicated to look and taste incredible.

Tom Kitchin’s Kitchin Suppers is published by Quadrille Publishing. RRP £20.

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Already being the proud owner of around 15 ‘curry’ cookbooks, including Reza Mahammad’s first book (Rice, Spice and All Things Nice), you might ask why I would have the need or be interested in yet another.

The answer is quite simply because this isn’t like the others. Reza has genuinely found an interesting and new angle; East meets West in Reza’s Indian Spice, challenging the palate and mind of a British audience hooked on well-known Indian (and British-style Indian) dishes.

Born in England, sent to boarding school in India to learn about his heritage, lived in France and well-travelled, Reza’s cooking influences are unmistakable.

He admits that he loves all kinds of foods from around the world but can’t live a day without spice. The result is (I hate to use the word since it often has negative connotations but it is the only way to describe it) fusion food. Thai, Persian, French, Italian, British dishes and cooking techniques are combined with a little Indian spice to enhance the finished dishes. It’s modern, vibrant and stylish.

Whilst a lot of different spices are used throughout the book and there is no spice glossary, the majority of the dishes use readily available spices and are easy to recreate. Others are more involved and best left for when you have some time to experiment or want to show off.

Each dish has a suggestion of what to serve with it, with a page reference so you can easily find it in the book, important I think when dealing with unfamiliar foods. Does it go with rice or bread? Do I need a salad or a vegetable side dish? Should I have a chutney with it? These are questions which are so often forgotten by professionals and about which many home cooks worry.

It was refreshing to see a variety of ideas for accompaniments; side dishes which are unusual, colourful and healthy. We particularly enjoyed the beansprout salad with chargrilled asparagus and coconut which we ate with the kachumber and spicy stuffed potatoes (a recipe from the ‘Slow burners’ section which took a while to prepare and a lot longer to cook in the oven than the recipe stated but which was most definitely worth the wait).

I was inspired by other ‘Perfect partners’ from the book as well as his western influences combined with eastern flavours to create a twist on the classic Sunday roast. I served my slow roast pork belly (which sat on a rack of onion, garlic, peppercorns and curry leaves to create a flavoursome and lightly spiced gravy) with Reza’s French beans with sesame seeds, gingered carrots with maple syrup and roast potatoes with chilli and chaat masala. If you thought it wasn’t possible for roast potatoes to be any better than they are already, I urge you to try Reza’s roast potatoes. They are incredible!

If you’re serious about cooking with spices, looking for recipes with a difference and photographs to drool over then let yourself be drawn into Reza’s exquisite and exotic world. I’m sure you’ll finish your meal smiling.

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Wrap up warm and be prepared to be taken on a journey. Tread in the deep, crisp snow, wander through the colourful and narrow streets, forage in the vast woodland, gaze into and fish in the bright blue waters and feel the warmth of family and friends as you simply break bread or share a feast with them. Be guided through the land, the culture, the food, the atmosphere and the seasons by the Scandinavian Cookbook.

As you might expect, the Scandinavian Cookbook is cleanly, clearly and efficiently laid out. The month themed chapters help you to eat with the seasons, though of course there are recipes which will see you right at any time of year.

And the recipes don’t disappoint: with a great deal of dishes quite unique to Scandinavian cuisine, the food is fresh and healthy and packed with flavour. There are a fair amount of fish recipes but also a lot of baking, desserts and treats as well as a wide selection of meat and vegetable dishes and not forgetting the pickles and berries.

Recipes are accompanied by snippets of background information, insights into the Scandi way of life and some very personal stories about the author’s Danish upbringing. The photography, from Lars Ranek, combined with these accounts, brings the book to life, giving the reader a real sense of the place as well as the obligatory dishes to drool over.

But what might you be feasting on? There is, of course, a recipe for Swedish meatballs and I urge you to go ahead and make your own, the result was much more satisfying than Ikea meatballs, though there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a plate of those every once in a while to help you survive a trip to the big blue and yellow place!  We had ours accompanied by some roasted potatoes, greens, pickled cucumber and berries (we used the suggested substitute of cranberries due to a lack of lingonberries). The only thing missing was the ‘gravy’ but a quick search on Google and the meal was soon complete.

But, not surprisingly, there’s more to Scandi food than meatballs. The Scandinavians have, as have many cultures, adopted the burger and made it their own. There are two unusual recipes: Bif Lindstrom, a beef burger containing capers and beetroot, and an incredible fishy equivalent; salmon burger with a chive and mayo dressing.

A trip to Scandinavia wouldn’t be complete without some reindeer (well, we had moose which we found in Lidl). Reindeer (or moose) steaks with their spicy black pepper and aniseed crust, served with a potato and celeriac gratin and roasted sprouts was a perfect wintry Sunday dinner.

The veal with baked rhubarb and barley salad was a great way to enjoy the vibrant pink forced rhubarb available in the early months of the year, whilst, if baking is more your thing, we had fun experimenting with the yoghurt and wheatgrain bread and the spelt buns.

For dessert, some apples, past their best, and some stale bread magically transformed into a divine apple trifle, and to accompany your Danish blue cheeses, how about the walnuts pickled in wine?

This beautiful book brought back memories of a wonderful and chilly week exploring Stockholm two years ago. Let yourself be transported to Scandinavia and embrace the Scandi in you. You won’t be disappointed. With recent publications such as this, Trina Hahnemann’s other book, the Nordic Diet, and Signe Johansen’s Scandilicious, it’s no wonder Scandinavian food is so popular at the moment, and long may it’s popularity last.

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Comfort & Spice is the fourth book in the Quadrille New Voices in Food series and the debut from the well-known food blogger Niamh Shields (aka @eatlikeagirl).

As the title suggests, the book is full of comforting, unpretentious recipes and dishes using a variety of warming spices to perk up your day. Recipes include classics from her Irish homeland as well as her own creations based on influences from her travels, food store finds and cooking experiments. There are sections for both light and comforting brunches, speedy suppers, food for the weekends as well as sweet things and drinks.

I can heartily recommend the smoked salmon with potato pancakes and cucumber relish for an indulgent weekend brunch – simple to make yet so satisfying to eat. For an easy and cheap meal try the lamb breast with persillade crust. Prepare the persillade crust then let the lamb breast slowly cook in the oven and two hours later you’ll be tucking into meltingly tender meat with a crunchy, garlic and herb topping. We polished ours off with salad, as Niamh suggests, as well as the remainder of the cucumber relish.

Niamh’s philosophy on food and cooking is similar to my own – she’s all about creating something special from economical ingredients, big, bold flavours, creative use of leftovers, as well as making basic ingredients such as butter, yoghurt and cheese from scratch (have a go at paneer one weekend and you’ll soon be hooked). When you have some time, what might seem like a challenge is proven to be simple, quick and rewarding – some things are really worth the effort.

The style of writing in Comfort & Spice is refreshing. The book not only contains some lovely, down to earth recipes but is also littered with anecdotes, tips on being a better cook (aimed probably more at beginners or less confident cooks), background information on ingredients and recipes as well as plenty of inspiration to get your mouth-watering. It’s clearly written by someone who gets a kick out of food, cooking, eating and feeding people and it’s sure to rub off on anyone who reads it.

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Travelling, TV cookery shows, cook books and restaurants showcasing countless cuisines from around the world mean that most of us have access to exotic flavours, interesting ingredients and top class cooking. Despite all this, the food which we find most comforting to eat, which makes us think of home and brings back wonderful memories is usually the food from our childhood. Celebrity musicians are no exception.

In Love Music Love Food: The Rock Star Cookbook, there are contributions from more than 60 artists; Tony Christie, the Sugababes, Siouxsie Sioux, The Feeling and Noel Gallagher to name a few. In interviews with Andrew Harrison, a music and pop culture journalist, they share with us a slice of their past, thoughts on the food they ate as they were growing up, the bars, coffee houses and restaurants which influenced their early careers, the dishes they enjoy most whilst travelling and the homely food favourites they long for whilst on tour. 

These anecdotes are transformed into a range of simple, extravagant, traditional and indulgent, recipes from fish and chips to frozen mixed vegetables, jaffa cakes (jaffa cake semifreddo anyone?!) to jerk chicken, pancakes to paella, sushi to sausages. The recipes are from Sarah Muir who has travelled the world cooking for musicians and bands, including Radiohead, The Prodigy and Bob Dylan, for over twenty years and knows just how to keep them and their crews happy. 

The interviews and recipes are brought to life by the striking works of photographic art from Patrice de Villiers in which the food, artists, their instruments, lifestyles and environs are captured in sometimes shocking, unexpected or humorous, but generally thought-provoking, ways. 

Patrice also devised the concept for Love Music Love Food. The story behind the project is wonderful and heartfelt. It’s a celebration of life aimed at raising funds and awareness for teenagers diagnosed with cancer who want a chance to live a happy and fulfilling life for as long as possible. 

It’s what the Teenage Cancer Trust offers them and by buying the book you can help contribute to the incredible work they do. In return you’ll receive this massive book, a fabulous publication featuring an all-star cast of artists who have supported the charity, the production of which wouldn’t have been possible without the input, hard work and dedication of a huge number of crew members, management teams, PR companies and services which are all listed and thanked in the book.

Mum’s roast dinner cooked to the tune of the Archers, grandma’s chicken casserole dished up with a healthy portion of rock and roll, or music to your ears: dad’s macaroni cheese. What’s your favourite food and music memory? What dishes shaped your food journey?

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In the preface of The Gentle Art of Cookery, Mrs Leyel explains what makes her book stand out from the crowd. The most striking of these is the statement that the “recipes are arranged in the only practical way, that is, under their principal ingredients”. 

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that two of my quite recent book reviews have been Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, the arrangement of both of these books being just that, by ingredient. 

This method of organisation of recipes in a book is still considered novel and yet, even in 1925 when The Gentle Art of Cookery was published, Mrs Leyel was attempting to convince her audience that it made sense “because it is more economical to do as the French do; shop first and then arrange the dinner according to what is most plentiful in the market, than to go out and buy what is necessary for a pre-arranged menu.” 

Unusually for a cookery book of the era, the publication contains many unconventional recipes for an English cook of the time as well as a chapter, Arabian Nights, which drew on the influences of her knowledge of Middle Eastern cookery using ingredients such as pistachios, rosewater and pomegranates, which would have been difficult to source but which are quite common today. 

Another surprising inclusion for a book of this period is a whole chapter devoted to children’s cookery. Not just cooking for children but recipes which children can make, on their own or supervised. Mrs Leyel maintained that cooking should be fun, magical and part of a child’s education and she set out to help home cooks get children involved in the kitchen. This is still so relevant today; entire books and TV programmes are dedicated to cooking with and for children. 

Whilst cookery books have come a long way since the days of The Gentle Art of Cookery, with the inclusion of tantalising photography, books introducing us to cuisines from every corner of the planet, and even those explaining how to bring molecular gastronomy to our own home, there is nevertheless a place for the likes of this book in our kitchen. There are still lessons to be learnt and good recipes to follow from these classics. Only time will tell if almost 100 years from now the nation will continue to enjoy the wares of Delia Smith, Nigel Slater and other great cookery book writers of our time in the same way we are rediscovering the books in the Classic Voices in Food series.

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Xavier Marcel Boulestin wasn’t a trained chef but a home cook; he just loved and understood food. Food and cooking were a huge part of his life and he had a great affinity with it as a result of growing up in France, learning to cook and appreciate food from his mother and grandmother. 

As a result, the recipes in Simple French Cooking for English Homes are all about simple, tasty, cheap, family-friendly French food, focussing on making the most of what you’ve got and getting the best out of it – using leftovers to their full potential and minimising waste. Not much of a wonder that it sold to a wide audience and influenced a revival of good food after WWI. 

At the time of publication, his recipes were very unlike what people understood French cooking to be about. He distilled the myths about French food and made it accessible. Among the chapters on soups, sauces, egg dishes, fish, meat, vegetables and sweets, he covers a wide range of dishes many of which are now known to be French classics. There’s even a chapter dedicated to salads, something we English were clearly doing wrong in his opinion! 

Boulestin has quite a distinct style of writing which, when reading the recipes, makes you feel like you’re by his side in the kitchen watching as he cooks. His recipes are concise without much detail, very few timings and no ingredients lists and yet still clear and easy to follow. He appeals to cooks to use taste combined with their instincts and imagination as well as some creativity to produce a good meal rather than follow exact measurements and instructions. 

His recipe for hachis parmentier, for example, simply says “melt a good piece of butter, add parsley, three small onions, or a large one, and shallots all chopped together. When cooked, put in your cold meat (anything leftover from different dishes will do), salt and pepper, stir well and cook for a little while. Butter a fireproof dish, put in your mixture, cover with potato purée and brown in the oven.” What could be simpler? 

Simple French Cooking for English Homes is a lovely book which warrants a place in the Classic Voices in Food series.

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